Don't place a whole lot of stock in the Galaxy's performance Tuesday night in Seattle, aside from this: They pulled out a victory in undeniably difficult circumstances.
Imagine what they'll do when conditions suit them.
L.A. was hit and largely miss in Major League Soccer's season-opener, a 1-0 triumph (on Juninho's second-half goal) in which the attack stumbled, the defense nearly crumbled and three points were gathered thanks to fill-in goalkeeper Josh Saunders' performance and the Sounders' misfortune at the net.
Whatever, they'll take it.
BAD ODDS: Nothing seemed in the Galaxy's favor when the night kicked off. Four starters were out, including star striker Juan Pablo Angel (sick with flu) and Best XI center back Omar Gonzalez (sprained shoulder) -- ailments kept secret until just before game time -- and those who could play were stuck on Qwest Field's hated artficial turf, slickened by the ubiquitous rainfall.
The conditions made it difficult to possess and move the ball, and L.A. failed, far more so than Seattle, to make connections among the midfielders, forwards and wing-backs. The game's defining feature, certainly in the first half, was the give-away. It wasn't very pretty.
WHAT WORKED BEST: The Galaxy got better defensively as the game wore on, evolving from not very good to really fine over 90 minutes. An unfamiliar pairing on the backline, with A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo in the middle, didn't help, but they acclimated and fared much better after halftime, when the Galaxy were more willing to sit back and counter.
There were so many poor touches in or near L.A.'s box that Seattle might have exploited. Sean Franklin was uneasy near the ball, leading to three Sounders chances, and Leonardo stumbled at least twice, once clearing the ball into Chris Birchall and leaving Erik Friberg a shot that bent just wide of the right post.
Franklin was markedly better in the second half, making a goal-saving defensive play against Servando Carrasco on a sharp cross from Fredy Montero in the 74th minute, then cleaning up an errant pass and then hustling to force a turnover in the 81st.
SAUNDERS OVER SOUNDERS: Better touch from second-year forward O'Brian White probably would have tipped the balance to the Sounders, who had plenty of chances -- and several good shots -- but couldn't beat Saunders.
He made three big saves on Montero, diving to deny him to the upper-left in the ninth minute and lower-left in the 83rd and using quick footwork to get in the way of his point-blank blast off a corner kick in the 32nd.
The Sounders also were missing a starting striker after announcing before the game they were parting ways with Congolese-born Swiss forward Blaise Nkufo, a Designated Player. Word is he wasn't happy with his role in coach Sigi Schmid's system and the Sounders weren't pleased with his attitude.
WHAT THEY SAID: “There’s not another team in this league who would go without their two starting center backs, their starting goalkeeper and one of their Designated Players and get a win here. We’re very proud of that.” -- Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.
“I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to beat a playoff team in this league five times in a row, three of which are a home field that everyone says has the best home-field advantage in the league. We relish this. If they want to open the upper deck and add more people to the stands, we would love it. We love this atmosphere, we love this environment, we love playing here.” -- Donovan.
“I prepared like it was any other day, but it was a good night for me. Look at our back line, and you can see our depth. You look at our back line, and you’ve got guys who’ve played in MLS Cup finals all the way through. They saved me a couple of times.” -- Saunders, the Man of the Match, deflects credit.
“Sometimes you have a bogey team, a team that for some reason, it just doesn’t work for you, and, right now, they’re that team for us. … Our guys are pissed, our guys are disappointed -- especially since it’s the opening game of the season and we haven’t lost an opener before.” -- Schmid.